Believers follow God's will across country

Soldotna church gets helping hand

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2001

Twelve present-day disciples from Wilmington, N.C., took advantage of an opportunity to see Alaska and do some of God's work while they visited.

"God has so truly blessed us, doing what he told us to do" said Linda Biddle, a school bus driver from Wilmington, last week. "Money can't buy an experience like this."

This is truly a trip of "firsts" for Biddle and others like her. Not only was this her first mission trip, but it also was her first plane trip and her first time to Alaska. Early on her second morning in Soldotna, Biddle also saw her first moose.

"It's a blessing to be here. It has been beautiful. Everybody has been nice," she said.

But the opportunity to work on the church was the highlight of the trip.

Biddle and others assisted in the renovation of the First Baptist Church of Soldotna. When the facelift is complete, the majority of the building will have new vinyl siding and the front entrance will be complete with a large picture window looking out onto Binkley Street.

 

Durwood Bradshaw, Charles Lee and James DeBose raise another piece of siding to the church during last week's construction.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

"The (Soldotna) congregation has been great," said Dorothy Hall, one of the female workers who made up at least half of the crew.

"They had all of the materials here waiting for us to begin."

While the Soldotna congregation removed all of the original siding and installed the new window, the visitors from North Carolina were responsible for installing the vinyl siding on the majority of the structure.

The only area not being re-sided is the original building constructed in 1963 by the founding families of the church. The removal of the old wood siding revealed a log structure underneath.

The church currently is looking into removing the paint without harming the logs. It plans to restore the log exterior and have applied for historical accreditation with the state, said the Rev. Jonathan Pederson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Soldotna.

Although the crew from North Carolina won't be involved with restoration process, they kept busy installing the new siding and enjoying the sights of the Kenai Peninsula.

Although they arrived in Anchorage late on the evening of May 20 and did not reach the peninsula until 4 a.m., they still began work the next morning at 8.

The group was so tired it didn't even notice the daylight at night, said Melvin Hall, a retired pastor and team leader who organized the trip.

Only a few had construction experience.

"People are doing things out here you couldn't pay them to do at home," said Hall.

In order to finish the work on the church by May 26, they worked from 8 a.m. until 5 or 6 p.m. But, before they left, they hoped to try their luck for a king on the Kenai.

They took a guided boat trip out of Seward earlier this week before heading off to Whittier, where they caught a ferry to Valdez, said Hall.

From Valdez, they are driving to Anchorage where they will catch their flight back to North Carolina.

North Carolina has been paired with Alaska since 2000. Every three years the individual Baptist state conventions partner with another state in "an exchange of services," said Pederson.

Biddle and two other women from her congregation were sponsored by their church. However, for the majority of those on missions, instead of being paid to work, they pay for the opportunity to help others by doing God's will.

Hall has visited Alaska on previous mission trips. He, like many others, is retired and also has volunteered in other countries such as Honduras. Some make trips every summer.

They all agreed with Biddle, it was a blessing just to be here.

CREDIT:Photo by M. Scott Moon

CAPTION:The Rev. Rick Armstrong of Hampstead, N.C., works on the First Baptist Church of Soldotna's siding last week.

BYLINE1:By CARLY BOSSERT

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

Twelve present-day disciples from Wilmington, N.C., took advantage of an opportunity to see Alaska and do some of God's work while they visited.

"God has so truly blessed us, doing what he told us to do" said Linda Biddle, a school bus driver from Wilmington, last week. "Money can't buy an experience like this."

This is truly a trip of "firsts" for Biddle and others like her. Not only was this her first mission trip, but it also was her first plane trip and her first time to Alaska. Early on her second morning in Soldotna, Biddle also saw her first moose.

"It's a blessing to be here. It has been beautiful. Everybody has been nice," she said.

But the opportunity to work on the church was the highlight of the trip.

Biddle and others assisted in the renovation of the First Baptist Church of Soldotna. When the facelift is complete, the majority of the building will have new vinyl siding and the front entrance will be complete with a large picture window looking out onto Binkley Street.

"The (Soldotna) congregation has been great," said Dorothy Hall, one of the female workers who made up at least half of the crew.

"They had all of the materials here waiting for us to begin."

While the Soldotna congregation removed all of the original siding and installed the new window, the visitors from North Carolina were responsible for installing the vinyl siding on the majority of the structure.

The only area not being re-sided is the original building constructed in 1963 by the founding families of the church. The removal of the old wood siding revealed a log structure underneath.

The church currently is looking into removing the paint without harming the logs. It plans to restore the log exterior and have applied for historical accreditation with the state, said the Rev. Jonathan Pederson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Soldotna.

Although the crew from North Carolina won't be involved with restoration process, they kept busy installing the new siding and enjoying the sights of the Kenai Peninsula.

Although they arrived in Anchorage late on the evening of May 20 and did not reach the peninsula until 4 a.m., they still began work the next morning at 8.

The group was so tired it didn't even notice the daylight at night, said Melvin Hall, a retired pastor and team leader who organized the trip.

Only a few had construction experience.

"People are doing things out here you couldn't pay them to do at home," said Hall.

In order to finish the work on the church by May 26, they worked from 8 a.m. until 5 or 6 p.m. But, before they left, they hoped to try their luck for a king on the Kenai.

They took a guided boat trip out of Seward earlier this week before heading off to Whittier, where they caught a ferry to Valdez, said Hall.

From Valdez, they are driving to Anchorage where they will catch their flight back to North Carolina.

North Carolina has been paired with Alaska since 2000. Every three years the individual Baptist state conventions partner with another state in "an exchange of services," said Pederson.

Biddle and two other women from her congregation were sponsored by their church. However, for the majority of those on missions, instead of being paid to work, they pay for the opportunity to help others by doing God's will.

Hall has visited Alaska on previous mission trips. He, like many others, is retired and also has volunteered in other countries such as Honduras. Some make trips every summer.

They all agreed with Biddle, it was a blessing just to be here.



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